Me, Myself, and iPod 4/14/10: Amanda Palmer, the blowjob queen

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Big, big, big selection of free downloads this week. Let’s get to it, before any more songs show up.

Teenage Fanclub – Baby Lee
If your first impulse when you saw the words ‘Teenage Fanclub’ was to say something snarky like “They’re still making records?” – or worse, “Who’s Teenage Fanclub?” – may we suggest keeping your fool mouth shut and giving this tune a listen. They’re not as in love with the feedback as they were in their Bandwagonesque days, but this golden slice of sunny guitar pop has medicinal powers that those Jamba Juice energy boosts can only dream of.

Amanda Palmer – Do You Swear to Tell the Truth the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth So Help Your Black Ass
“When I was seventeen, I was a blowjob queen, picking up tips from the masters / I was so busy perfecting my art, I was clueless to what they were after / Now I’m still a blowjob queen, far more selectively / I don’t make love now to make people love me / But I don’t mind sharing my gift with the planet / We’re all gonna die, and a blowjob’s fantastic.” Note to self: arrange a meeting with Amanda Palmer.

Olney Clark – Tea and Thunderstorms
The orchestral pop market has been positively flooded with sensitive minstrels…really, really sensitive minstrels, if you know what we mean. (Most of them are sissies, all right?) This track from Olney Clark, a duo comprised of a Scot and a Yank, gets the balance just right. And better yet, it’s available in Amazon’s download store, even though the album is still only available as an import. Better move fast, though: those imports tend to get delisted pretty quickly.

Kate Miller-Heidke – Politics in Space
Take the drum beat from Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and give it to KT Tunstall’s well-read older sister, and this is what it would sound like. Love those lower register background vocals, and the stinging indictment, “The ’60s were 50 years ago, you know.” True, dat.

Emanuel and the Fear – Dear Friends
ELO, kiddies. And unlike Cheap Trick, we mean the pun in that first sentence, because any Lynnephiles will instantly take to this nifty piece of baroque pop.

Charlie Faye – Whirlwind
We will readily admit to approaching modern-day country with a healthy dose of skepticism; that country-pop stuff feels like a wolf in sheep’s clothing to us, which is why we’re happy to see someone like Charlie Faye come along. Her voice is weathered (yes, Charlie is a girl) but not whiskey-soaked, and she’s mounting a rather ambitious tour where she’ll spend a month in each city, form a band, play a show, and then move on to the next stop. We still haven’t heard her debut album Wilson St., but if it’s anything like “Whirlwind,” we’re sure going to check it out.

Echo & the Bunnymen – Proxy
As much as we love when the band takes the occasional detour into mellow groove territory like 1999’s What Are You Going to Do with Your Life, they’re at their best when they reach for the rafters. This song, from their album The Fountain, doesn’t scale the frenzied heights of songs like “Do It Clean,” but good luck getting that piano riff out of your head.

Codeiene Velvet Club – Hollywood
This swinging side project of Fratellis frontman Jon Fratelli is still in power rotation. A boy/girl album of songs that recall ’60s-era Hollywood, this shows that the Fratellis’ last album may not have hit the mark, but don’t write them off yet. Indeed, Codeine Velvet Club might be Fratelli’s finest moment yet.

Ex Norwegian – Fresh Pit
This Miami trio casually sent us a friend request on MySpace last week, and proceeded to knock our guitar pop socks off. We asked if they would send us their last album (they’re currently working on a new one), they did, and we were amazed at the band’s versatility. This tune should pacify those jonesing for Band of Horses’ upcoming album.

Deer Tick – Twenty Miles
Is it just us, or did about a dozen Deer bands hit the scene at the exact same time? Whatever the timing, there will be no mistaking Deer Tick from the rest of the pack after hearing this track from their upcoming album The Black Dirt Sessions. Singer John McCauley sounds like David Gray crossed with James Hetfield, and the band’s blend of Southern Gothic will have Joseph Arthur pissing with envy. Good stuff, this.

  

Codeine Velvet Club: Codeine Velvet Club


RIYL: The New Pornographers, Nancy Sinatra, John Barry

Here’s the awful truth about life as a musician: when they’re not recording, touring, shooting a video, or doing press – in other words, when they’re not acting like a musician – they get bored, really quickly. It only took Jon Fratelli, lead singer and guitarist from Scottish trio the Fratellis, a couple days of down time after a lengthy tour commitment to get the itch, and before he knew it, we was recording an entire album of ’60s-styled boy/girl pop with a friend of his wife.

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All people should be so productive at the brink of exhaustion; the resulting collaboration, Codeine Velvet Club, is a swinging collection of soundtrack music for an imaginary film. (Think Madonna’s I’m Breathless, only cooler, and ballsier.) Fratelli’s partner, chanteuse-in-the-making Lou Hickey, is like a poor man’s Neko Case, but the imperfections of her voice work in her favor more often than not. (Contrary to what the suits would have you believe, personality matters just as much as technique, if not more.) The vampy “Vanity Kills” slinks like a film noir femme fatale, and the charging “I Would Send You Roses” has an unforgettable, if breathless, chorus. Two showstopping ballads anchor the album’s middle, as “Nevada” and “Reste Avec Moi” could both pass for lost Bacharach compositions. The cheeky bastards even did a period-piece cover of the Stone Roses’ “I Am the Resurrection”; amazingly, that works, too.

Codeine Velvet Club is a most pleasant surprise, especially considering it comes hot on the heels of Fratelli’s underwhelming sophomore effort. There’s a statement in here somewhere about how it took a couple Scots to make a good old-fashioned American pop record, but we’re not really in the mood to point fingers – we’re just glad someone still remembers how it’s done. (Dangerbird 2010)

Codeine Celvet Club MySpace page
Click to buy Codeine Velvet Club from Amazon

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